Translated from the Chinese by Ye Chun. Bilingual Edition.
For over two decades, March 26th has marked the day when college students across China hold vigils for the poet Hai Zi, reciting his poetry and sharing their own poems dedicated to him. Newspapers and magazines publish memorial articles and the latest critical essays on his work. People travel from far and near to visit his tomb in the otherwise forgotten village of Chawan. It was on this day in 1989 that Hai Zi laid his body down on a rail track near Beijing Shanhaiguan and ended his life at the age of twenty five.
"In modern Chinese history, few poets have been revered to the extent that Hai Zi has. Not only is he one of the most read contemporary poets, but also one of the most imitated—his folkloric simplicity, imagistic clarity, his motifs of wheat, wheat field, village, and grassland have found their way into many Chinese poems written today. Mostly unknown during his lifetime, he has been posthumously crowned with such titles as 'the genius poet', 'the purest poet,' 'the poet martyr,' and 'the poet who has changed a whole generation's writing of poetry.'"—Ye Chun, from the Introduction
Poetry. Asian & Asian American Studies
Pretty much unknown during his lifetime, Hai Zi/海子(1964- 1989) has attained posthumous recognition as one of the most important figures in Chinese contemporary poetry. Born and raised in a farming village in Anhui Province, he passed the entrance exam to Beijing University at fifteen. At twenty, he started teaching philosophy and art theory at China University of Political Science and Law. During the last five or six years of his life, he wrote over two hundred haunting and memorable lyric poems and several epics. He committed suicide in 1989 by laying himself on a railroad track at Beijing Shanhaiguan. More than a dozen books of his work have been published posthumously.
Ye Chun/叶春 is the author of two books of poetry, LANTERN PUZZLE (Tupelo Press, 2015) and Travel Over Water (Bitter Oleander Press, 2005), and a novel in Chinese, 《海上的桃树 》(Peach Tree in the Sea, People's Literature Publishing House, 2011). A recipient of the NEA Fellowship, she teaches at Providence College in Rhode Island. Her most current works are Hao (Catapult, 2021), a collection of short stories and her most anticipated novel, Straw Dogs of the Universe (Catapult, 2023).